Answer Staff Columnist
Learn why this program is so important to American families
During this holiday season children will receive toys, families will give gifts and everyone will feel good about sharing with friends and family. I would like to give a special gift to families across the continent. Head Start is the reason why my family survived during my dad’s enlistment through the Vietnam War.
As the eldest of seven children I was the first in my family to attend Head Start in the early 1970’s. Later in life my mom would explain to me how the Early Childhood Program in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn was filled with resources like health care, summer programs and more. When my dad returned his enlistment in the Air Force Head start played a significant role in the entire family.
Six years ago I thanked God for the opportunity to assist a company from my hometown to establish operations in Las Vegas. Acelero Learning Clark County would expand my knowledge and appreciation for the Head Start program when it became the grantee in Southern Nevada.
I am part of the Acelero Learning Inc. family. I believe that every state in the country should have a Head Start program like the one in Southern Nevada. I asked Dr. Rory Sipp to provide me with information about Head Start and Acelero Learning Clark County. This program is not just for low income families. Working and middle class families are able to take advantage of the awesome programs they provide. This is my gift to the families of Southern Nevada. Happy Holidays!
Acelero Learning Clark County
What sets Head Start apart from an average day care facility?
Acelero Learning Clark County provides high quality pre-school education to children and families through funding from the federal Head Start program and support provided through the national Acelero Learning network. Acelero Learning’s mission is to bring a relentless focus on positive child and family outcomes to close the achievement gap and build a better future for children, families, and communities served by the Head Start program. The Head Start program requires that 90 percent of all children enrolled in Acelero Learning centers are living at or below the federal poverty line, and then further we have to provide services to families with the highest need. Head Start also requires that Acelero Learning and other Head Start programs offer a variety of services to address the social, physical, emotional and education needs of each child served and support services for children’s parents and families in achieving their personal education, career and life goals.
Are there any studies that prove that children starting in Head Start have a better chance at succeeding in life?
David Deming, a professor at Harvard University, conducted a study specifically focusing on siblings enrolled, and not enrolled, in Head Start programs across the country. The study found that Head Start participants are roughly 8 percent more likely to graduate from high school, 6 percent more likely to attempt at least a year of college and 7 percent less likely to be in poor health than their siblings who did not attend a Head Start program. If you were to apply this number to the more than 25 million children that have participated in Head Start since it began, there are likely over 2 million children that have graduated high school than would have otherwise.
Is Head Start a babysitting program?
Head Start, by nature, is not a “babysitting” program. The national program requires that early childhood programs compete for federal funding, and after becoming a grantee meet a variety of comprehensive performance standards to continue to receive the funding. These standards range from establishing a strong educational curriculum to meeting numerous health and safety requirements that protect young children. In addition to these mandates, Acelero Learning is dedicated to closing the achievement gap for the children and families that we serve. With this goal in mind, our program has a unique focus on high quality educational curriculums and data-driven outcomes.
To ensure that our programs and teachers are effective and producing positive results, we collect, analyze, and use child data in a variety of ways. We also carefully choose educational programs for Acelero Learning classrooms that have a solid research base and have shown promising results, based on a larger grantee-wide strategic framework. As a national program, we intentionally explore variations that allow us to evaluate which education program components are the best fit for Acelero Learning Head Start.
What is the positive impact on a family as a result of their involvement in Head Start? Are there special Head Start programs for parents? What impact do those programs have in the lives of the entire family?
At Acelero Learning, our mission to close the achievement gap guides our work in all Service Areas. Within each Acelero Learning center, we have a Family Services team that works with parents and children to meet specific needs and provide each family the support that they need to meet their own goals and ensure their child’s success in school. In 2011, we revised our family services approach to help staff and families better focus their work together in areas that research suggests will promote school readiness. As one component of this approach, the family services team identified four family life practices that have been linked to positive outcomes for children, and have integrated strategies to promote these into our family partnerships, parent committees, and other program-wide activities. By encouraging families to incorporate these practices, Acelero Learning hopes to promote strong and stable families in order to ensure positive outcomes for the children in our programs.
Every parent at Acelero Learning received detailed information on the achievement gap, and our mission to close it, at parent orientations across all delegates. Families also received specific strategies about what they can do to help us close the achievement gap. Now, Acelero Learning staff encourage parents to actively engage their children at home in conjunction with daily activities included in Acelero Learning’s parent/child activity calendars, sent home monthly, and adding thousands of hours of yearly participation in enhancing literacy, social and cognitive development and strong family bonds. Our regular monthly parent workshops will contain more information on these important practices, and families will set family goals related to these areas.
Acelero Learning centers in Clark County have several programming features to address the needs of the parents and families within the community. One example of this is the Father/Male Involvement Program that coordinates activities with fathers and other significant male family members to participate in the educational activities of their children. Due to research that indicates male involvement significantly reduces drop out rates and crime rates in young boys (* citation) and overall school success for young children, this program aims to educate and support males in understanding their role in their children’s success.
Additionally, we have several programs aimed at supporting healthy lifestyle practices for children and families. One of these programs, Food for Soul, offers health and nutritional information to parents to educate them on what foods to buy and how to healthily prepare meals in an economically efficient way. In encouraging healthy eating and cooking, Acelero Learning hopes to decrease childhood obesity and promote health and nutrition amongst our families.
Myths to dispel?
We at Acelero Learning Clark County truly value the opportunity that we have to make a difference in our families lives and work to close the achievement gap for the children and families that we serve. We take this goal very seriously and work very hard to ensure that each child that comes through our doors is prepared to excel in Kindergarten and beyond. Our carefully chosen curriculums and family services approach aims to wholly address the needs of our children and families in order to prepare them with the skills necessary to succeed throughout their educational journey.